Justin Kover, 37, who also was unsure about public power here because of potential costs to ratepayers, finished out of the running.
Oosterman was the big winner, capturing slightly more than 57 percent of the vote, followed by Fossum with slightly more than 23 percent. Kover took nearly 19 percent of the vote.
The central issue for the candidates comes as a result of the Thurston Public Power Initiative, a grassroots effort that collected enough valid signatures to get the public power issue before voters in the fall. If approved, it gives the three-member PUD commission the authority to pursue electrical services if they choose. The PUD currently is a water utility that owns or manages water systems that serve about 4,200 homes and businesses.
Oosterman, 68, thanked her supporters Tuesday night and said her opponents were both cordial and considerate. “My decision to run was an independent decision, and all (future) decisions will be based upon facts, facts derived from critical study and thorough analysis,” she said in a nod to the public power issue. “The voters have shown this is what they want in a commissioner.”
Oosterman is involved in several local boards and spent 20 years in management. She’s also familiar with how a public power utility works, having lived in Eastern Washington in Republic, Ferry County, home to Ferry County PUD.
Still, Oosterman said she needs more information about public power, such as its cost, before she makes a final decision about whether to support it for Thurston County.
Fossum sounded confident Tuesday night, saying that with volunteer and union support, he expects to do well in the fall race.
“I think we’re going to do pretty darn well,” he said.
Fossum, 48, who has worked for the division of child support in the state Department of Social and Health Services for 20 years, supports public power. He said the initiative, if approved, gives the commission up to 10 years to study and determine whether it’s feasible and can be delivered in a cost-effective manner.
A preliminary feasibility study about public power has been released by a consultant hired by the PUD, although it did not identify any costs. The PUD commission is expected to make a presentation about the next stage of the study on Sept. 11.